The wild beasts of Nevis

Nevis Laboratories, the physics lab where I work, is setting up an outreach program. The goal is to give the general public an idea of the work we do here. I’ve become the “social media coordinator” for the lab. Nevis now has a presence on three social-media sites: Facebook follow Nevis Labs on facebook, Twitter follow Nevis Labs on Twitter, and Instagram follow Nevis Labs on instagram.

I’m still seeking content for the sites. I’ve already reached out to the Nevis summer students: over the course of the summer I hope students will take pictures of their work and send them to me. For now, I’ve mostly populated the feeds with pictures that relate to the history of the Nevis estate and to the animals that wander through the 68 acres of fields that surround the physics buildings.

I’ve posted before about monitoring the nest boxes at Nevis. Since I wrote that post, families of tree swallows have moved into two of the boxes and laid eggs. You can see pictures on the Nevis sites above.

Please feel free to follow any of the Nevis social-media feeds. Right now hardly anyone follows them because we haven’t started publicizing them. I have a fantasy that if everyone reading this blog starts following Nevis, I can say to the staff, “At this point Nevis is being followed by more witches than scientists.”


One late afternoon, while walking to the nest boxes, I saw a flock of small black birds off to one side. They weren’t crows; crows have black beaks, and these birds had orange beaks. They were also too small to be crows. They moved as a flock, but they didn’t seem to have the wings or white bellies of swallows.

I mentioned these birds to one of my colleagues at Nevis. He said, “Oh, I know the birds you’re talking about. I don’t know the name in English, but in French they’re called merle.” So I looked up that word on the web, and discovered that those small black birds are called (have you guessed yet?) blackbirds.


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